October was a whirlwind of writing about cemeteries and talking about cemeteries and touring cemeteries. You can believe I was in heaven.
The month started with my speech at the Death Salon about how the graveyards were removed from San Francisco. That led to a very small group tour of Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland, led by Arthur Kay. He helped me find a gravestone I was looking for, as well as the grave of one of the last Romanoff princesses and a whole lot of other locally important people. The day was incredibly hot and I was sick with a bad cold, but it was worth making the effort to get out in the sunshine.
A week later, still sick with that stupid cold, I managed to see Douglas Keister’s photos of graves in the Holy Land at Cypress Lawn Memorial Park. That was immediately followed by his gracious and fascinating hands-on seminar on how to take cemetery photos. The warm gold light spilling across the cemetery made me feel so much better. I wish I’d taken more photos.
I took the weekend of my birthday off — mostly because there weren’t any cemetery tours I wanted to attend that weekend and I was still sick. The final weekend of the month, I was spoiled for choice. I wanted to go down to Gilroy, California to see Old St Mary Cemetery, since it’s only open on days when the Historical Society leads tours, but I wasn’t sure I could make it by 10 a.m. on the day after my family had been out trick or treating.
Instead, I dragged my daughter and husband up to Martinez to see the amazing Alhambra Cemetery. The cemetery overlooks the Carquinez Strait in the northern part of San Francisco Bay. The Historical Society held a tombstone scavenger hunt for the kids, which entertained my daughter while I read the historic signs and marveled over all the lovely tombstones. We’d never been to Martinez, so afterward we treated ourselves to a Thai lunch and poked briefly through the antique shops before getting one of the best iced mochas my husband has ever tried. It was the perfect family outing.
Finally, on November 2 — All Souls’ Day — my friend Samuel came up to the northern tip of Napa County with me so we could tour Cloverdale Cemetery. Susan Bennett led the tour in character as Gravedigger Tom. The tour group was enormous, which did my heart good to see. We learned about the history of Cloverdale and its surroundings through the lens of the California Gold Rush and the farming era that followed, through the days of the spas and summer camps and religious splinter groups.
Old St. Mary Cemetery represents the southern tip of my ongoing research for the Pioneer Cemeteries of the San Francisco Bay Area book. Cloverdale is the northernmost boundary. It would have been something to see them both in the same weekend, 161 miles as the Google maps, but I’m happy with what I was able to accomplish.
November 3 dragged me out of cemeteries and back to real life. I had to dive into revising the first book of the space opera trilogy I sold to Night Shade Books in February. I’d been waiting for the book to come back from the editor all year, so of course it arrived in the middle of my cemetery madness. It’s turned in at last and the book is in press now, for release next summer. There are more details here, if Hong Kong-style revenge science fiction is your kind of thing. I’m very proud of it.
Long story short, it’s been a while since I blogged on Cemetery Travel, for which I’m sorry. I’m still trying to figure out how to juggle everything. The second book of The Dangerous Type trilogy is due soon and I need to toggle back and forth from being a cemetery historian to a science fiction writer. It feels strange to have both sides of my life converge at last, but it’s an exciting place to be.
More blogs using this week’s Photo Challenge as a jumping-off point can be found here: http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_photo_challenge/converge/